“Try to put it behind you.”
“Be glad you’re alive and okay.”
“Just give it time and you’ll be back to your old self.”
“Just get over it.”
As you begin to rebuild your life after a violent encounter, it common for family and friends to attempt to comfort with these kinds of assurances. They are delivered with the best of intentions – after all, they want to help, but it’s just not easy to know how to support someone who has lived through a violent crime. As many survivors know, these “assurances” don’t have their intended impact. Rather, they represent a lack of understanding about how deep the wounds reach and how difficult it may be to recover. Instead of helping, such comments may actually exacerbate an already strong sense of alienation and withdrawal.
Depending on the survivor’s personality, the nature of the crime, the survivor’s support network, and a host of other factors, some victims do appear to “get over it” and move on with their lives fairly quickly. Others require more time and effort to recover (sometimes a lifetime), which in no way indicates weakness on the part of the survivor. Keep in mind that recovering from a deep trauma is a complex and personal process, and coming, resilience, and strength come in many forms. A commitment to healing and finding trauma informed support is the greatest step forward – regardless of how long it takes.
Many survivors find it helpful to connect with others who have lived through similar experiences. These peers have “been there” and can more easily relate to and validate some of the struggles in the aftermath. Finding local support groups or online communities can be helpful to establish healthy and supportive connections with other survivors.
You may never “just get over it” or “get back to your old self” – sometimes these life experiences create a new place of “normal” living. Violence can be life-altering and may require prolonged and proactive efforts to rebuild and create a places of safety. While your essence as a person remains the same, violence can shake you to the core and radically alter your perceptions of people and world around you. Eventually, moments without anxiety, carefree days, and joy will again become part of life and these are signs of healing, but it may take a while.